Bicol architects moving to change the landscape of societies

In my business travels to Bicol a couple of weeks ago, I was fascinated by the developments of the property market. To my delight, the involvement of architects both in the government and private sectors is changing the landscape.

First stop on my trip was Naga in Camarines Sur. A bustling and progressive city with new urban developments, Naga City is moving forward in development. I believe it has utilized the 30-year Sustainable Development research plan of UAP Camarines chapter’s architect Jennifer Vibar. She used to be the dean of Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology (BISCAST) College of Engineering and Architecture.

Another place to see is the Museo ni Jesse Robredo rising from the ground. Although made a few years ago, it still architecturally evokes uniqueness while depicting the late DILG Secretary quite well. Architect Gian Paolo Priela of UAP Camarines chapter, the museum’s designer, did justice to Robredo’s extraordinary life with the building’s remarkable design.

Iriga City in Camarines Sur just had its blessing of the Office of the City Architect at the New Government Center in Sta. Cruz. It is headed by my good friend, architect Romano Jake Alvaro. It is in this times of progressive development that the chief of this wonderful place, Mayor Madel Yorobe Alfelor, together with city councilors led by archictect Sonny Magistrado, had the vision to move forward and project a more modern, more dynamic Iriga City with the creation of the Office of the City Architect.

Architect Alvaro is ably supported by his team of dedicated and hardworking visionaries, namely architects John Christian Dimaiwat, Jarom Roman and Malvin Orbon. I assumed the Office of the City Architect was responsible for the re-use of the old city hall to a new commercial complex housing Puregold and other business establishments.

Next stop on my business trip was Legazpi City in Albay where the City Architect Reynaldo “Rey” Acosta of UAP Legazpi chapter used to work with the firm of National Artist Leandro Locsin and Partners. Architect Rey returned to his hometown to join the local government of Legazpi City.

Armed with a lot of experience, here he spent his creative time improving the social welfare and living conditions of the city. His latest project development was the realization of Mayor Noel Rosal and the City Council’s Sawangan Park, which turned a desolated strip along the coastal area in Legazpi City into a leisure park teeming with people wanting to exercise, socialize and enjoy the boulevard or just gaze outward to the sea or look at the picturesque Mayon Volcano. It’s truly a successful story on property investment as it increased the value of the surrounding properties, too.

On to the next place is Guinobatan, a first-class municipality in Albay and here, the architects of UAP Daraga Cagsawa chapter headed by president Ana Capuno, with immediate past president Ma. Madonna Maravillas, have supervised and monitored the construction of low-cost houses under the Office of Vice President Leny Robredo. The architects here have partnered with this project of the vice president together with UAP QC Elliptical chapter, Bicol University, and Jaycees, among others. They have pooled their time and efforts in uplifting the living conditions of the less fortunate Albayanons affected by the recent typhoons.

Construction of multi-purpose building (table tennis courts) Barcelona, Sorsogon with architect Ana Capuno of DPWH Sorsogon 2nd DEO doing the design.

The beauty of this project is that the families affected participated in this endeavor and committed their labor equity, while the chapter architects lent their technical expertise and supervision-monitoring.

Another stopover on this business trip was a meeting of representatives from the three UAP Chapters in Albay, where I felt the involvement of architects in local government activities or in the private sector. UAP Tabaco chapter was ably represented by the incoming president, architect Renee Tronqued in lieu of architect Miguel Imperial, while UAP Daraga chapter had president Ana Capuno. Unfortunately, district director Arrjay Joquico and Prez Darryl Funelas of UAP Legazpi couldn’t make it because of prior commitments.

Afterwards, I traveled south, and I had the pleasure of meeting up with the government architects of Sorsogon who were all busy preparing for the Palarong Pambansa. Department of Public Works and Highways first district architect Gerry Espigol detailed the various projects, including the stadium.

Provincial planning architects Valerie Cardiente and Randy Sandoval discussed the design developments happening under the office of Gov. Chiz Escudero, which includes the new road networks and infrastructures in this southern tip of Luzon, giving a new look to this once sleepy place that is now a bustling metropolis.